India's Blue Dart posts 3% rise in quarterly profit on online sales boom

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's Blue Dart Express reported a 3% increase in quarterly profit on Friday, as the Deutsche Post DHL Group-controlled delivery services provider rides a pandemic-led online sales boom.

Net profit rose to 936.4 million Indian rupees ($11.36 million) for the three months ended Sept. 30 from 905.5 million Indian rupees a year earlier.

Blue Dart, which started off with a capital base of little over $350 nearly four decades ago, said revenue from operations climbed nearly 18% to 13.25 billion rupees.

"India's economic recovery from COVID-19, along with other current economic and geopolitical uncertainties in the world, is progressing well and the trajectory will continue further," said Managing Director Balfour Manuel.

Online sales have remained high, with demand from smaller cities and towns particularly soaring, as people have taken to the ease of shopping from the comforts of their homes after trying it out during the coronavirus lockdowns.

To cash in on growing demand and protect its margins from rising input costs and interest rates, Blue Dart late last month said average shipment price from next year would be nearly 10% higher from 2022 levels.

For the quarter, Blue Dart's core earnings margin was 18.9%, compared with 21.9% a year earlier, with total expenses climbing nearly 24%.

Blue Dart said servicing costs rose due to higher wages, while high jet fuel prices and a strong greenback also impacted its performance during the quarter.

Blue Dart, whose air freight business carries higher margins compared with its road freight division, earlier this year said it would add two freight aircrafts for nearly 3.6 billion rupees to increase its capacity by up to 20%.

Shares closed 3.2% lower, trimming its gain to around 26% this year.

($1 = 82.4330 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)